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How Long Does A Skunk Smell Last On A Dog?

how long does skunk smell last on a dog

If your dog has been unlucky enough to have a run-in with a skunk, the first thing you’d want to know is how long does a skunk smell last on a dog? What can you do to eliminate that awful stench that often seems to get on everything and linger long past any reasonable time frame?

Skunk odor is surely no joke, and if you’ve dealt with it once, you may still be having nightmares. So let’s look at how long skunk spray lasts and what to do if your dog gets in the way of an unhappy skunk.

Can Skunk Spray Kill A Dog?

Bizarrely, the thiol in dog spray can cause Heinz body anemia in dogs. This rare type of anemia usually happens if dogs get poisoned by allium plants such as onions or garlic. In severe cases, it may be deadly.

If your dog gets full spray, it can irritate their eyes several. Skunk spray can also make your dog vomit severely. Therefore, if a skunk sprays directly into your dog’s face, get them to the vet for treatment.

How To Remove Skunk Smell From Dog

  1. Quickly take your dog to a quiet area, preferably in the yard and not in the house.
  2. Throw on old clothes, cover yourself in trash bags, and don gloves to keep the smell from transferring to you.
  3. If possible, ignore popular home remedies such as tomato juice, as these do not neutralize the skunk smell. This is a myth.
  4. Wet your dog thoroughly. Ideally, you want to work in special skunk shampoos into your dog’s fur and sprays for everything they touch. Examples include:
  • Skunk-off shampoo & Skunk-off Spray
  • ZORBX Extra strength skunk odor remover
  • De Skunk Shampoo
  1. If you do not have special skunk shampoos and spray ready, do not wait until you do. Mix the following in a bucket: 1/4 cup baking soda, 1-2 teaspoons of dishwashing detergent, and 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide.
  2. Work the DIY mixture or the skunk shampoos through your dog’s coat and into its skin. Rinse and rewash several times.
  3. Remember that the thiol binding to the proteins in your dog’s coat and skin strips your dog of its natural protective oils. So after washing with the peroxide mixture or the skunk shampoo, you need to moisturize your dog’s skin to prevent inflammation or dermatitis. Choose a dog shampoo and conditioner that soothes itchiness and moisturizes dry skin to protect your dog after all the washing.
  4. Finally, apply a doggy cologne or perfume deodorizer to take care of any last hints of spray.

If your dog has long hair, you may need to make the difficult decision to shave it off to get the smell of skunk out faster. Understandably, you may be reluctant to do this. See our article on how long shaved dog hair takes to grow back if you want to know more.

Finally, do not forget that dogs have a higher skin PH than most mammals, which means they are extremely vulnerable to skin infections. Skin infections or irritation often happen when something disturbs the natural balance in the dog’s coat.

Repeated washing and treatments to remove a skunk smell will definitely disturb a dog’s natural skin balance and may cause skin issues. Make sure you apply soothing and moisturizing treatments throughout the process.

If your dog managed to get inside and you’re wondering how to get the skunk smell out of the house, you can try the PawSafe Pet Stain & Odor Remover.

How Do You Get Skunk Smell Off A Dog’s Face?

If your dog got sprayed in the face, they should see a vet immediately. Swallowing skunks spray can cause deadly anemia. It may also act as tear gas, damage their eyes, and cause vomiting.

But when removing skunk scent from a dog’s face, one simply has to be a little more careful than with the rest of the body. Use an old face cloth to wet your dog’s face. After that, scrub the skin and fur with your skunk shampoo or your baking soda and peroxide mixture. Be careful not to use strong peroxide as it cause a chemical burn.

Use small circular motions with your gloved fingers to work the skunk shampoo into the fur, but be extra careful to get any in your dog’s eyes, mouth, or ears. Rinse and repeat several times until the spray smell is less noticeable.

Follow this up with a gentle dog conditioner to soothe the skin and coat. Finally, spray a little doggy perfume onto your hand and wipe it onto your dog’s cheeks and forehead. This last bit should mask the skunk smell that will likely linger for several weeks.

Final Thoughts

There is no quick and easy way to get rid of skunk spray. The best you can do is damage control. For one thing, keep your dog out of the house, or limit the areas they can enter. Make sure you don’t get anything on your clothes, as it may be the last time you wear them.

A skunk smell can easily last over three weeks but has been known to last longer. So don’t be surprised if your dog still smells like a skunk after a month. Multiple washes with good shampoo and special skunk odor removers will go a long way. Be sure to follow up with oatmeal and aloe dog shampoo and conditioner to replace some of the natural oils in your dog’s skin. Finally, make use of pet cologne and deodorizer to rid yourself of any lingering scent.


Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.

Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

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